JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY IN NOLA

Now I know that a key ingredient to expansion and improvement is the possible destruction and inevitable construction of some existing beings. But no one should have to exist in this urban facelift everyday. Currently the Crescent City is improving: extending the streetcar line, adding a new off ramp, fixing potholes, perfecting the po-boy, you name it. But, this construction has in turn diverted profits from all coin-operated car washes by ripping away any hope people have of keeping their gas-loving vehicles clean. But something amazing happened on February 9th. As you looked up into the heavens you could see a sign. Just as plain as day, the car wash in the sky said "TILT" and on Sunday night everyone who drove to see the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey got clean wheels and two hours of mind expansion. Once again we meet at Gatemouth’s Parish.

The continual ebb and tide of the improvisational evening brought us some fresh requested themes entitled "Crooked Fish Hook," "Triangle," and "Burning of Winters Last Leaves" (thank you Ray Patten). For the tune "Triangle," Jason Smart ushered in New Orleans’ percussion master and fresh beat poet, Johnny Vidacovich. Johnny capitalized on bringing Brain Haas and Reed Mathis on a swampy musical journey aboard his percussive pirogue. Just a few weeks ago a happy few were treated to the sounds of Vidacovich, Mathis and June Yamagishi at The Howlin' Wolf. Yet the combo of Mathis and Haas seemed to have brought out a seldom seen side of Vidacovich. At times Johnny appeared to be discovering and relearning the kit, as he curiously roamed around the skins laying deep textured themes that Haas and Mathis gladly reciprocated.

Although we were not treated to a 5’ or 7’ grand, Brian Haas made up for that, issuing total command of his surrendered Rhodes and melodica. The humid crowd was treated to a roller coaster composition by drummer Jason Smart entitled "Calm Before the Storm." "Storm" shows Smarts’ talent at writing and also hints that he really likes scary roller coasters. Not the fast roller coasters, or the old crickety ones, but the fast old crickety ones that make you think you will fall out of the chair if you put your hands up.

Further down the road our spiritual tour guides brought us to the commanding woods of the Pacific Northwest with the tune "Walking With Giants." The Fred presented "Giants" like a Thoreau audio book. Though being miles away from these inspirational redwoods, our ears were strings to our marionette minds as we were guided along a garden canopy of living breathing beings.

JFJO continued the evolution of its homage to The Slip, by rearranging again the aptly titled tune "The Slip." I believe this tune always brings out the lighthouse in the Fred. Many times Mathis can be found wailing and sailing on uncharted seas and appear alone fighting a storm. And at the right time Haas’ deep humming Rhodes can show anyone the way back to shore. It’s just that Mathis sometimes finds an island...with coconuts and monkeys.

This island was rediscovered with the Mathis composition "Hover." The tune represents the act of leaving your body, an easy thing to do when you have the right shamans. It’s just what the Fred does best, allow you to take a break from your day and let your mind hover toward the path of Truth, Love, Light and a clean car.

All images and words by: Zack Smith
JamBase | New Orleans
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[Published on: 2/19/03]

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